01 JAN 2017 by ideonexus

 1980 View of Software

Software is a new enough kind of thing in the world that humans are still figuring out how to deal with it. Though it can be bought and sold, you can't see, hear, touch, taste, smell, eat, or burn it. On an unlovely flat artifact called a disk may be hidden the concentrated intelligence of thousands of hours of design, for which you are expected to pay hundreds of dollars, and which you can reproduce on your own computer with perfect fidelity in less than a minute, free. Personal computers ha...
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17 MAR 2014 by ideonexus

 Spider Trap

A spider trap (or crawler trap) is a set of web pages that may intentionally or unintentionally be used to cause a web crawler or search bot to make an infinite number of requests or cause a poorly constructed crawler to crash. Web crawlers are also called web spiders, from which the name is derived. Spider traps may be created to "catch" spambots or other crawlers that waste a website's bandwidth. They may also be created unintentionally by calendars that use dynamic pages with l...
Folksonomies: computer science hacking
Folksonomies: computer science hacking
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An infinite-recursion website that lures web-crawlers into an infinite-indexing loop.

24 JAN 2014 by ideonexus

 Ada Lovelace Describes the Analytical Engine

The distinctive characteristic of the Analytical Engine, and that which has rendered it possible to endow mechanism with such extensive faculties as bid fair to make this engine the executive right-hand of abstract algebra, is the introduction into it of the principle which Jacquard devised for regulating, by means of punched cards, the most complicated pattems in the fabrication of brocaded stuffs. It is in this that the distinction between the two engines lies. Nothing of the sort exists in...
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It is a loom, but for weaving equations.

24 JAN 2014 by ideonexus

 Computer Simulations Allow for Mistakes

. . in real life mistakes are likely to be irrevocable. Computer simulation, however, makes it economically practical to make mistakes on purpose. If you are astute, therefore, you can leam much more than they cost. Further¬ more, if you are at all discreet, no one but you need ever know you made a mistake.
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Where mistakes in the real world don't allow do-overs.

24 DEC 2013 by ideonexus

 Turing's Two Great Insights

Alan Turing, the father of the modern computer, began by thinking about the highly conscious and deliberate step-by-step calculations performed by human “computers” like the women decoding German ciphers at Bletchley Park. His first great insight was that the same processes could be instantiated in an entirely unconscious machine, with the same results. A machine could rationally decode the German ciphers using the same steps that the conscious “computers” went through. And the uncons...
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Alison Gopnik on how the father of the computer realized machines could do the work of women "computers," and how much of hte human brain was like a computer.

03 DEC 2013 by ideonexus

 Algorithm that Presents Opposing Viewpoints

Social networks allow people to connect with each other and have conversations on a wide variety of topics. However, users tend to connect with like-minded people and read agreeable information, a behavior that leads to group polarization. Motivated by this scenario, we study how to take advantage of partial homophily to suggest agreeable content to users authored by people with opposite views on sensitive issues. We introduce a paradigm to present a data portrait of users, in which their cha...
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Intended to break people out of their protective circles that generate extreme viewpoints, it presents opposing viewpoints that won't offend. Tricky.

23 OCT 2013 by ideonexus

 The Chinese Room Argument

Suppose that I'm locked in a room and given a large batch of Chinese writing. Suppose furthermore (as is indeed the case) that I know no Chinese, either written or spoken, and that I'm not even confident that I could recognize Chinese writing as Chinese writing distinct from, say, Japanese writing or meaningless squiggles. To me, Chinese writing is just so many meaningless squiggles. Now suppose further that after this first batch of Chinese writing I am given a second batch of Chines...
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An argument against the possibility of AI, replacing a computer with an english-speaking human being performing english-instructions on chinese symbols and outputting results. This is like a computer, which does not understand the symbols it is manipulating, but the results look intelligent.

29 SEP 2013 by ideonexus

 The World is a Function

Kakeru Seki: A fact is somehow related to another fact. Unless you understand these relationships, you won't be a real reporter. Noriko Hikima: True journalism! Kakeru Seki: Well, you majored in the humanities. Noriko Hikima: Yes! That's true--I've studied literature since I was in high school. Kakeru Seki: You havea lot of catching up to do, then. Let's begin with functions. Noriko Hikima: Fu...functions? Math? What? Kakeru Seki: When one thing changes, it influences another thing. A ...
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As a programmer I know that algorithms can relate to the real world, and since these algorithms are constructed in computers that ultimately run on bits and boolean logic, then the real world may be imagined to deconstruct to pure mathematics.

31 AUG 2013 by ideonexus

 COBOL as a Programming Language

I worked with COBOL near the end of my last contract and found aspects of it fascinating compared to today's languages. Everything is about structures that map directly to the bits on disk, with fine grain control on precision and data types. But then the language reads as a series of macros where you don't have to remember the low level details: do this to this, put this here, if this do that. It's also a terribly difficult language to parse because it was designed for ease of use by humans...
Folksonomies: history computer science
Folksonomies: history computer science
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Comment captures what's interesting about it historically, how early programmers needed algorithms to handle all the bit-switching.

09 JUL 2013 by ideonexus

 Fun Computer Science Tasks

C is a big language with a lot of features, and it’s easy to get lost in how fun it is. But you can’t really appreciate a feature without knowing what it’s like to do without. So do things with limited resources. Make a binary adder using falling dominoes. Make a functional digital clock with neon bulbs, resistors, capacitors, diodes, wires, and a wall plug. Make a Turing machine with LEGO blocks. (Use a crank to run it.) If you’re really ambitious, make some logic using fluidics wi...
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Projects to learn CS and appreciate its underlying structures.